I just finished day one of a journey I have been looking forward to all year. I am taking part in a conversational Greek class at UK this week. Day one was even harder than I expected. My brain is fried so I’m just going to offer a couple thoughts here because I promised myself I would post everyday about this.
I expected this to be difficult, and I expected that I would be a beginner of beginners when it comes to speaking and hearing ancient Greek with understanding. I underestimated just how difficult it would be to hear ancient Greek spoken at a conversational pace. That is the hardest part. If I have a few minutes, I can piece together what I want to say, but listening to those who are more advanced is very difficult.
One unexpected obstacle is the letter omicron. I have always said it like the short o in got. They insist I say it more like the long o in go. There are a lot of omicrons in a lot of words so I’m getting corrected on just about every sentence I speak! I welcome the correction, but what am I going to do in the coming school year? It seems I am going to have to shift my classroom pronunciation to /ō/ and ōmicron!
What did we actually do today? Well, the first couple hours were dedicated to introducing ourselves and learning how to say basic things like, “Get up, sit down, lie down, sleep, pick up the toothbrush (!), brush your teeth,” etc. Later in the day we spent some time talking about various animals and what they are capable of doing (jumping, swimming, etc.), and towards the end of the day we looked at some cartoons and provided captions in Greek.
One thing I was really curious about going into the meeting was what exactly we were going to do with the Greek texts that were given to us beforehand. We were emailed several texts and were instructed to read them beforehand. But what were we going to do in class? We certainly weren’t going to translate them into English! God forbid. When it came time for working through the first text, Christophe called on someone to read the text, he asked us questions about the text in Greek, and he had people act out the scenes using the vocabulary of the provided text but in the inflections necessary to actually carry out the actions in real time.
As I said, I have been beaten down and dragged through the mud today. I learned a lot, but I have a very long row to hoe this week. Beaten down but not dismayed. I’m determined to get better at this. I’ll let you know about day two tomorrow.